Holly Mandel has been a teacher with The Groundlings in the US and has founded her own improv school, Improvolution, bringing the character-based approach to many students in NYC. In this blog, she talks about the need to discuss an extremely important issue facing improvised theatre.
I'm often asked, what has inspired your talk and the work you do with women and comedy and 'gender expectation'? Why did you create a talk?
My hope is that both women and men see this talk and get INSPIRED.
Get FIRED UP! Understand more clearly how we as women are constructed…certainly not the whole picture, but with enough information to get what all of these different voices ARE in us. Where they come from. What they WANT. What they TELL US. Most importantly, what they VALUE.
Because this isn't about gender anymore.
That was another battle with another mission. This battle is a battle about values. And culture, simply, does not value women. There's no bad guy, no villain. It just IS. Historically…and even in many, many places today we see that particular value being played out over and over: the lack of value for women. Sex trafficking. Gendercide. Too many examples to even begin to list…
Even here, right now in the USA, women are paid less. But guess what? We still stand for it. So it's not as black and white as we sometimes like to make it. Values are hard to see and hard to address. It's easier to make it about gender…men versus women. But that's not the case. I have a LOT of women in my life (often relatives from back home in Missouri…a red state mind you… ) who have a VERY different idea of how my life SHOULD be. And I have a LOT of male friends in LA and NYC (coincidentally blue states….hmmm…) who value me and other women for very different reasons. So it's not a gender issue as much for me as about what we are VALUED for.
So…HOW do we change that?
How do we address the fact that both sexes for the most part value women for things MANY of us want to change? We want to be valued for being a fellow human being. Period. Valued for our ideas simply because they're OURS. Valued for our contributions regardless of what our sex is. NOT valued merely for how we look, how attractive we are, how nice and supportive and self-less we are. On and on, blah blah blah. To some women, that is what they want. For many of us, it's the same as being suffocated! We cannot stand it. And so we're doing something about it. Because if WE don't, who will???
This talk and these workshops are meant to start that conversation.
And keep it growing. To help explain where the GOOD GIRL started, see where she holds us back, WHY she holds us back, and most importantly see there is more in us than that. There's a VERY free, VERY bold, VERY valuable person in there too who is here to create. To express. To expand. To participate. To lead. And I want to give THAT part in every woman permission to fucking go for it, help other women break free and go for it, and help our awesome post-modern guys understand how they can help us…and themselves…too.
It is no coincidence to me, none whatsoever, that comedy – mainly improv, but stand-up too – is where women are making a move. Taking ground. There's a perfect storm to comedy and improv specifically that is calling on women to take a stand in this other part of themselves and leave their GOOD GIRL in the dust. It's so exciting I can barely contain it because it's RIGHT HERE, happening all around. In 10 years we are going to look back and see how pivotal this moment is for us. It's time. We all feel it. It's happening.
I just want to add major fucking fuel to that fire.
Holly Mandel will be teaching an Introduction to Character Workshop on Saturday 15th June 11am – 2pm – Tickets are £30 and can be purchased here
She will also be teaching Advanced Improv (Scenework, Character Development and Longform) Sunday 16th June 11am – 2pm. Tickets are £30 and can be purchased here
Holly will be giving her original talk Good Girls Aren't Funny on Sunday 16th June at 8pm. Tickets are £8 and can be purchased here.